Whale sharks arrive early in Ningaloo
Whale shark season has begun early this year for the second year running.
The season usually starts in the middle of March, but sightings have been reported off the Ningaloo reef since late January.
Exmouth tour operators have been conducting tours three times a week since mid-February and have successfully sighted and swum with a whale shark.
A spokeswoman from Coral Bay Eco Tours said they were not yet looking for whale sharks as intensively as they would in normal season times, but were gearing up and preparing the boat for the season.
Exmouth Visitor Centre general manager Kristy Bryan-Smith said the early arrival was good news for visitors because it was a good sign for a long season ahead.
“It also means anyone going to Exmouth for a holiday over the Easter break has a much higher chance of spotting a whale shark,” she said.
Photographer Violeta JahnelBrosig said she had seen eight whale sharks this year on tours and on her private boat.
She said the early season generated work for the community and gave current tourists the opportunity to experience the reef as if the season had started at the normal time in mid-March. The Ningaloo reef is one of the few places in the world where people can get close to the gentle giants.
Department of Parks and Wildlife whale shark conservation officer Dani Rob attributed the high whale tour sighting success rates to the accessibility of the reef.
“We’re nice and accessible here at Ningaloo — it’s pretty easy to get to and the last few seasons, our sighting success rate has been up around 98 per cent,” she said
“For any eco-tourism industry in the world, to be able to say 98 per cent of our tours actually get to swim with a whale shark — that’s unheard of in a lot of places.”
Whale shark tours have started early in Exmouth for the second year in a row.
Whale shark success rates are high.